“I’m going to die a virgin.”
Olivia pulled a stool up to the stainless steel workspace that filled the center of the small industrial kitchen. Without missing a beat, she dismissed her best friend’s prediction. “You can’t die a virgin. You’ve already had sex.”
“Well it’s been so long, I’m sure I’m re-virginized.”
Olivia snorted. “That’s not a word. Or a condition.”
“It should be. I can be the first documented case.”
“Cassandra Miller, patient zero.” Olivia cocked her head to the side. “You need a man.”
Cassie glanced up from the clipboard where she’d been ticking off the items in the afternoon delivery and blew a stray auburn curl out of her eyes. “No time.”
“Call me crazy but I’m fairly sure your sex life won’t improve until you actually start spending a little more time around humans and less around convection ovens and stand mixers.” She picked up a dough prickler and spun the wheel. “Although this looks promising.”
Cassie reached across the counter and snatched the gadget out of Olivia’s hands. “You know I’ve been pouring every spare minute into this bakery.” She tucked the small pastry wheel into the front pocket of a neon pink apron with SUGAR RUSH printed across the front. “The grand opening is less than two months away and there’s still so much to do.”
“Your business partner must be a real slacker,” Olivia said with a laugh.
“Yeah, total nightmare. Runs off and elopes with a gazillionaire, and next thing you know she decides that she needs to invest in a cupcake shop.”
“You know, when I offered to be your silent partner, I didn’t envision you working eighteen-hour days.”
“First, when have you been silent about anything? And second, you’ve made my dream come true, Livvy. I just want to do you proud. I wouldn’t even be taking this weekend off if it wasn’t my brother’s wedding.”
“And even in Podunksville you’ll be spending more than half your time in an apron.”
“The town is called Madison and it’s not podunk. It’s charming and quaint.”
“Uh, hel-lo, farm girl here,” Olivia said, aiming her thumb at her chest. “I know podunk when I see it. But a weekend away is still a weekend away and while it might not be Vegas, I for one, plan to make the most of it.”
Cassie lifted a brow. “Need I remind you that you got completely sloshed in Vegas and ended up sleeping with the enemy?”
The smile that lit Olivia’s face was the perfect combination of sentiment and smut. Cassie would tease her best friend—covering her ears and shouting “TMI!” when Olivia would wax nostalgic about the wild night she’d spent with her now-husband, at least the parts she could remember—but the truth of the matter was, Cassie couldn’t have been happier for her. There’d been a time when Olivia had given up on romance. Seeing her so happy renewed Cassie’s hope that maybe someday she’d find a love like that as well. Of course, that day was a long way off. Right now, she had a shop to open. There were invoices to check and shelves to stock and vendors to meet with and ads to place. The list went on and on, which meant Cassie had absolutely no time whatsoever for men.
“Letting my hair down in Vegas ended up being the best decision of my life.”
“Don’t you mean letting your top down?” Cassie asked, referring to Olivia’s bold decision to go topless at the hotel’s adult-only pool.
Olivia laughed. “Well if I can untie my bikini top, least you can do is untie those apron strings.”
She had a point, but it was moot. “I promised Matthew and Emily that I would make their wedding cake. It’s my gift to them.”
“And that’s sweet and all but it’s not like Prince Charming is going to stroll into the bakery to sample your sweets and sweep you off your feet.”
It had been so long since anyone had sampled Cassie’s sweets, as her friend so eloquently put it, there might as well have been a permanent CLOSED sign in the window. And with the way things were going, that was going to be the case for the foreseeable future. Not that she was complaining. Three years ago—when she’d quit her job as a CPA at one of Chicago’s top accounting firms to pursue her true passion—Cassie would have never envisioned opening a pastry shop anywhere, much less in the heart of Millennium Park. The entire venture was the opportunity of a lifetime, and she was darn sure going to make the most of it.
“I don’t have time to be swept off my feet.” Cassie opened the recipe book that was sitting on the counter next to her and began flipping through the pages. “Maybe just pressed up against the fridge,” she added with a giggle.
“Well you won’t find a cure for re-virginization in one of those cookbooks,” Olivia said. “What you need is a little adventure. Put some spice in your life.”
Cassie rolled her eyes. “So says the woman who spent last weekend crawling over rocks looking for snotty-nosed vermin.”
“Hey, those little vermin brought Cole into my life.”
Indeed they had. Although there were times when Cassie still found their entire relationship hard to believe. For three months Olivia had made it her life’s work to lobby—or harass, depending on which one of them you asked—Cole into moving his latest venture to an area that wouldn’t threaten a long-eared bat that looked to have a serious sinus issue. Then a night in Vegas led to a marriage of convenience and the rest, as they say, was history.
“We can’t all protest our way into the perfect marriage. Besides, I don’t have time for a love life.” She waved a hand at the boxes stacked in the corner. “I literally have piles of work to do.”
“I’m not talking about having a relationship, just a little fling.” Olivia wiggled her eyebrows. “And this weekend is the perfect opportunity. Weddings are always a good place for a hook-up.”
Cassie’s green eyes grew wide. “You want me to have a weekend fling at my brother’s wedding?”
“Sure, why not? He and Emily will be the center of attention anyways. All you have to do is wear some hideous bridesmaid’s dress and smile.”
“And decorate the wedding cake.”
“You could do that in your sleep. There will be plenty of time to get busy with non-frosting-related ventures. Then again . . .” Olivia reached for a small test batch of frosting and dragged her finger through the fluffy cream. “I can think of a few places I might like to spread this on Cole.”